To reach your potential customers first you have to grab their attention in today’s sea of information. Attention is always the first step in someone’s engagement with your product or service.
There is a traditional marketing model that is used to describe and understand the cognitive process behind making a purchasing decision.
The purchase funnel is a model that focuses on customers; it describes their journey from the first contact with a brand to a buying decision.
The purchase funnel is also often referred to as the “customer funnel,” “marketing funnel,” or “sales funnel.”
The marketing funnel model was developed by American advertising and sales pioneer Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Today his idea is often referred to as the AIDA model.
A.I.D.A. acronym stands for awareness, interest, desire and action.
Attracting attention, maintaining interest, creating desire and getting action are parts of a linear process.
In 1925 the four phases in Lewis’s AIDA model came to be seen as hierarchical, when Edward K. Strong, Jr. adapted the model but added the funnel dimension, with the understanding that not all who enter at the awareness stage exit with an action.
The AIDA model funnel stages:
- Attention (Awareness) – The customer becomes aware of the existence of a product or service
- Interest – Actively expressing an interest in a product group
- Desire – To acquire a particular brand or product
- Action – Taking the next step towards purchasing the chosen product
Basic Concept of the AIDA Model and Later Variations
The basic concept of the AIDA model was used for decades by offline marketers. But digital marketers believe a different approach is necessary, because the modern purchase funnel has more stages, considers repurchasing intent, and takes into account new technologies and changes in consumer purchasing behavior.
Later variations of AIDA model. The model was complemented with the addition of emotional elements such as confidence (AIDCA), satisfaction (AIDAS), and conviction (AICCA).
The AIDA model was created in order to represent a very linear path to purchase. The customer had to achieve defined goals in each section of the funnel before advancing to the next section.
Postmodern Conversion Funnels
The purchase process was mostly linear when the AIDA model was created. However, not all customers function in a linear way today.
Digital media and advertising channels provide multiple levels of engagement between customers and brands and allow customers to interact with brands more directly and at a faster rate than ever before. Thanks to Web 2.0 and social networks, customers and their involvement with the brand often co-create brand message and visibility.
Digital advertising leads to a world where thinking, feeling and doing as performed by customers are neither linear nor occur in different phases. They are connected and can happen in any order.
Atomic Brand Model
The atomic brand model represents the millennial customer’s path from first contact to buying decision, influenced by digital advertising.
The focus of the atomic brand model is engagement rather than action.
Customer engagement is defined by the Interactive Advertising Bureau as
“a spectrum of consumer advertising activities and experiences—cognitive, emotional, and physical—that will have a positive impact on a brand.”
The reasoning behind this is that millennials love getting involved in the product creation process and the brand experience.
The atomic model, or brand atom model, allows marketers to constantly re-evaluate, reimagine and re-create marketing strategies, based on real-time findings and insights. The brand atom model is the most agile marketing model.
“Millennials are the most connected generation of buyers the world has ever seen, but they don’t trust companies or CEOs — they trust their friends and connections, and they want to hear about real experiences from real people. Make sure they are happy, satisfied customers, and provide easy ways for them to share.”
– Suzanne Fanning, President of Word of Mouth Marketing Association
The main components of the brand atom model are:
All components are interdependent and interconnected.
Your brand energy is basically about generating positive word of mouth (click of mouse). It’s about getting people to talk about you, engage and share your content, and spread awareness about your brand and campaign.
It doesn’t matter what you say about your brand, what matters is what your customers say about your brand to their friends and networks.
Brand and customer partnership is the mutual drive that holds the entire model together.
Don’t forget that millennials don’t want to be customers; they want to be your brand partners. This gives them a chance to take ownership of your product, service, or even company, and turns them into brand ambassadors, not just customers.
Sharing experiences—not just with the brand, but also with each other (building community)—is very important. Imagine creating something and giving someone a once-in-a-lifetime experience, will never forget.
What is especially important and appealing to millennials is finding meaning in friendships and building meaningful and lasting relationships.
Imagine your brand creating opportunities like that. Find the reason and drive behind your brand. It’s not about what (your product or service), it’s not about how (how you use it); it’s about why—the friendships, the experiences and the memories.
The AIDA model was created in order to represent a very linear path to purchase. However, not all customers function in a linear way today.
In a world where thinking, feeling and doing as performed by customers are neither linear nor occur in different phases, using AIDA model isn’t enough.
If the first click or impression doesn’t result in a direct action (i.e., conversion), that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a wise investment.
Postmodern conversion funnels are not complete models of how advertising works from start to finish. Instead, they give an explanation of how advertisers can bridge the gap from first impression to sale close.
Digital marketing capabilities significantly increase the ability of marketers and their agencies to build brands.
Consumers should be equal partners in creating the advertising experience. You can create compelling content and context, but it’s up to customers to pay attention, spend time with your brand, interact with it, and come to the end of the sales and marketing funnel.